Here is an interesting forum discussing the flip side of ageism in the media concerning the past election. The different commentators explore the ageism against Barrack Obama due to his young age. The posts debate over the absurdity in associating youth with inexperience. This is definitely an important topic because ageism can be directed at any age group. Link to Site
Here are some more links about seniors and their sex lives. If the last post made you squirm, I wouldn’t suggest reading these articles. Just remember that seniors have needs and wants to.
Experts want to lift taboo on nursing home sex
Survey shows staff feels it’s a topic they need to be educated about
Nursing-home residents have sexual needs too. And now researchers are finding ways to educate staff on the taboo topic and provide accommodations for the elderly to shack up under some privacy.
“Most staff have the same mindset many of us do, which is ‘I don’t want to think about my parents having sex, let alone my grandparents,’” Gayle Doll, who directs Kansas State University’s Center on Aging, told LiveScience.
The researchers suggest educating staff about sexuality and making sex in nursing homes less hush-hush. In the long run, they hope federal guidelines will help all nursing homes deal with sexuality in a positive way, especially as baby boomers age and bring their 1950s and 1960s attitudes about sex with them to the facilities.
The research, whose details were announced today, was presented in October at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging conference.
“By law, you can’t always lock a room, but you can offer residents some privacy,” Doll said. The semi-private rooms that are typical in nursing homes pose a problem for residents who want to engage in sexual activity, either alone or with a partner, Doll added.
In fact, past research has shown that men and women continue to participate in sexual intercourse and “solo activities” well into their 70s and 80s.
Let’s talk about sex
The researchers’ suggestions come from studies about sexuality in three Kansas nursing homes. In the study, Majka Jankowiak and Laci Cornelison, research assistants at the Center on Aging, surveyed the staff before and after a workshop on sexuality that they had presented. Rather than telling nursing-home staff what to do, the researchers used the workshop to get staff talking about sex and asking questions.
The surveys, as well as anecdotal feedback from the participants, showed a marked change in attitudes.
“They really felt this was a topic that they needed to be educated on,” Jankowiak said. “Part of it is that American society is not supportive of older people and sex. It’s been a taboo, and it’s an even bigger taboo in nursing homes.”
Jankowiak added, “After the presentation, the participants felt more confident talking about it and dealing with sexual expression of residents.”
Such shifting attitudes ended up having a positive effect on a married couple who had moved into a nursing home room with two hospital beds. One spouse had to have a leg elevated, but it was on the same side as the partner’s bed. The positioning made it tricky for them to hold hands. Some staff members didn’t see the importance of allowing the couple intimacy and said the problem couldn’t be fixed.
“But someone who had been to our presentation encouraged everyone to move the furniture,” Cornelison said.
Sex in nursing homes brings up some safety issues. For instance, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can be concerns for a generation that may not have the same awareness that younger people do today, the researchers say.
Also, adult children may have concerns about their parents’ safety or how a new relationship will affect the family or their inheritance. The researchers are developing materials to help family members deal with these questions.
“What they fear is exploitation or that the role the parent played will go away,” Doll said.
In addition, Alzheimer’s and dementia raise questions about the ability to consent, and these conditions also may spur sexual behavior that’s inappropriate.
“Even though we advocate for residents’ rights, there are things that are inappropriate,” Doll said. “But staff must be able handle this without residents feeling embarrassed. Inappropriate behavior can just come from people needing relationships, not necessarily sexual ones.”
Casinos are creating marketing campaigns specifically aimed at the elderly. Thousands of elderly are becoming addicted to gambling, many of which are unable to rebuild their finances after the addiction consumes them.
Can there be laws to help prevent people on a fixed income from gambling their money away?
Here’s an article about the extreme gambling problems in Arizona (found on globalaging.org):
More elderly are having problems with gambling
By: Tom Zoellner
The Arizona Republic, June 16, 2002
Arizona’s booming retirement economy has fostered a quiet side effect: a growing number of senior citizens who turn to racetracks or casinos to stave off loneliness and wind up addicted to gambling.
“Their numbers are growing,” said Don Hulen, executive director of the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling.
“Many senior citizens centers send buses out to various activities, and one of the places they go is to gamble.”
No reliable data exist to chart the extent of the phenomenon in Arizona, but estimates are that more than 67,000 retired citizens in the state have a gambling problem.
Many of them never even placed a bet until late in life and were taken completely by surprise by the power it had over them.
“I just wanted to zone out in front of the slot machines,” said one elderly Phoenix area resident, who started going to the casinos at age 55. “It’s real easy to slip into the hypnotic stage. You don’t need sleep, you don’t get hungry. It seemed as though I was being fed by the machine. If I made money, I played it away until it was gone.”
Elderly women appear to be the fastest-growing sector of the addicted population. According to the East Valley chapter of Gamblers Anonymous, more than 75 percent of calls to the telephone help line come from females.
Most of the addicted elderly gamblers in Arizona can be academically classified as “escape gamblers,” Hulen said.
Their need to play horses, lottery card or slot machines comes not from a love of the game or a desire to win money, but from a gnawing need to get away from loneliness, boredom, financial difficulties or other emptiness in their lives.
“They have a need to self-medicate, to escape their problems,” Hulen said.
A gambling addiction developed late in life is often even more devastating than one that shows up early, said Pat Fowler of the Council on Compulsive Gaming in Florida, another state with a huge retirement population.
Older people on a fixed income find it much more difficult to rebuild their finances after a gambling addiction takes its toll, she said. And the risk of suicide tends to be higher for elderly gamblers who lose all their money, she added.
Many casinos also make a point of aiming marketing campaigns specifically at senior citizens and go out of their way to make lonely elders feel at home, she said.
A better picture of the problem in Arizona may develop by the end of the year.
The Arizona Lottery canceled a call for bids on a “prevalence study” this year because Gov. Jane Hull has signed new gambling compacts with Indian tribes and Lottery officials assumed that the state’s first prevalence study would be underwritten by the tribes.
But the Legislature refused to ratify the compacts, leaving voters to choose between three gaming initiatives on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The uncertainty has persuaded Arizona Lottery officials to request bids for a study again, and the data should be gathered by fall, Lottery Executive Director Geoffrey Gonsher said. The complete study is expected by the end of the year.
One lady comes up with a plan to let able-bodied elderly live independently, without being pushed into nursing homes in the following video:
In my search I came across a link to a blog about nursing home abuse in California. It’s published by lawyers to famaliarize citizens of procedures and rights. It’s pretty interesting, even for those of us who don’t live in California.
This article is mainly about the reasons that the elderly are deprived of proper mental health care. The reasons cited are:
1. Stigma – the media has put images of elderly “crazy” people in movies, commercials, and tv shows. This creates unwillingness to seek help among elderly for fear of prejudice.
2. Agism – when agencies are confronted by budget cuts, it is often the services to the elderly that are cut on the basis that they are too old to benefit.
3. Service Delivery – it is mostly assumed that the elderly will self-refer themselves to community mental health centers; public and private sector agencies generally push the referencing of the elderly to the side.
4. Reimbursement – there is a large disparity between Medicare and Medicaid in dealing with mental health versus psychiatric health. Practitioners are reimbursed at lower rates for the elderly and the co-pay is higher.